It has already become a cliché: Kevin Rudd’s memoir, Not for the Faint-Hearted, is not for the faint-hearted. More than 600 densely packed pages long, it contains some 230,000 words and over 1,000 footnotes, but by the end of the volume Rudd is yet to be sworn in as the twenty-sixth prime minister of Australia. Yet the work was ‘intended to be a letter of encouragement’!
But why so long a letter? An obvious response is verbosity: over-written, too detailed, and with a narrative regularly interrupted by digressions. A generic explanation is that Rudd has opted for autobiography (‘a personal reflection on life, politics and purpose’) rather than the political memoir, with its focus on the political career and limited personal background or introspection. Further, Rudd is probably the most consummate presenter of self in recent Australian politics: ‘My name’s Kevin, I’m from Queensland, and I’m here to help.’ He used the popularity derived from this presentation to out-manoeuvre the factional chieftains to become prime minister and then again to resurrect his career, albeit briefly.